By Jim Naveau
COLUMBUS — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has avoided words like defend and repeat all season when asked about another national championship.
But a repeat this season of the improvement OSU showed the second half of last season, is something Meyer is willing to discuss.
“I think the way we finished a year ago was the perfect template,” Meyer said at a press conference on Wednesday. “It’s hard to say there was a better defense, hard to say there was a better offense and better kicking game. Everybody is working to get there.
“Obviously, the expectation level here is to be the best defense, the best offense and the best kicking game. We’re not there yet but I think it’s very close. What’s next is a complete game, a dominant performance. We haven’t had that yet,” he said.
The next chance for No. 1 Ohio State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) to find that dominant performance will be Saturday night at Rutgers (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten).
CARDALE’S REACTION: On his radio show on Thursday, Meyer described Cardale Jones’ reaction to being demoted to the No. 2 quarterback this way: “Cardale has handled it about as well as you can. He’s a guy I have a lot of respect for.”
OSU INJURY UPDATE: Linebacker Joshua Perry is listed as probable for Saturday’s game. He suffered a sprained ankle on the second play of last week’s 38-10 win over Penn State and did not return to the game.
Receivers Parris Campbell (knee), Dontre Wilson (foot) and Johnnie Dixon (tendinitis) are all dealing with injuries, Meyer said on his radio show.
He said freshman running back Mike Weber is running “about full speed” and that now the decision might be whether to play him or redshirt him.
RUTGERS INJURY UPDATE: Standout receiver Leonte Carroo’s status is still uncertain because of an ankle injury he suffered in the fourth quarter of a 55-52 win over Indiana last Saturday.
Carroo is a huge part of the Scarlet Knights’ offense with nine touchdown catches. He has 21 catches for 472 yards this season.
Carroo has put together those statistics in just a little more than three games. He was suspended for half of the season opener, suspended for two games because of an assault charge that was later dropped and he missed the fourth quarter of the Indiana game.
SELLOUT ANNOUNCED: Rutgers says Saturday night’s game against Ohio State is a sellout. Capacity at High Point Solutions Stadium is 52,454.
This is the first sellout of the season at home for Rutgers. It has averaged 47,625 fans at home, with a crowd of 50,373 against Michigan State two weeks ago being the biggest of the season.
Rutgers had three sellouts last season — against Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin.
WHAT’S THAT NOISE?: Michigan State special teams coach Mark Snyder, a former Ohio State assistant coach, said he heard a unique sound coming from former OSU offensive coordinator Jim Bollman, also a Michigan State assistant, when the Spartans beat Michigan on the final play last Saturday.
Snyder told Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press all the MSU coaches in the press box were jumping up and down and screaming, but the loudest sound came from Bollman.
He described the sound as “like a giant moose.”
Reach Jim Naveau at (567) 242-0414 or follow him on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.